Shower commode makes life easier for tetraplegic teenager

4 minute(s) to read

Fatutoa Semisi is living proof that life can change in an instant. The courageous 16 year-old is adapting well to a new life where he’s unable to move or care for himself following a freak accident in Samoa in 2020.

Fatu was celebrating his 14th birthday with friends by enjoying an inflatable waterslide set up in his Nana’s front yard. The boys had been riding the slide all morning when suddenly, Fatu found himself in the pool of water at the bottom, unable to move.

“I don’t know how it happened,” Fatu says. “Me and my friends were sliding down normally and the next thing I know, I was just floating in the water and I couldn’t really feel anything. I told my friends to just hold me up because my body was sinking.”

Fatu had inexplicably fractured multiple vertebrae and is now tetraplegic – unable to feel or move anything below his shoulders.

A typical day for Fatu now involves one of his team of caregivers waking him around 5am and removing his oxygen mask and catheter. Using a mobile hoist and sling, Fatu is lifted onto a RAZ shower commode which is a new piece of equipment recently supplied by Cubro.

The family has trialed lots of different shower commodes in the past two years, and says this one provides the best support by far. Molded arm rests and padded knee pads keep Fatu’s growing limbs securely in place, and his neck is comfortably supported. The entire commode can be tilted backwards to take the pressure off Fatu’s buttocks (minimising pressure injuries), and can be adjusted to accommodate for future growth.

An ingenious slide rail system means the commode seat (with Fatu sitting on top) can detach from its wheels at the push of a button and slide into the shower where it locks into place on top of four permanent aluminum chair legs.

The RAZ shower commode with slide rail system allows for safe and easy showering.

“It’s made a huge difference,” says Fatu’s mum, Namu. “I’m no spring chicken. So anything that helps us with our posture and Fatu’s comfort and safety is phenomenal. Before we had this new sliding system we had to physically lift Fatu’s old commode into the shower box which was hurting our backs. Fatu is 16 now and is still going through growth spurts so lifting him is getting more and more difficult.”

The family has worked closely with Cubro Equipment Specialist, Garry Stanners, to find the right solutions for Fatu’s daily care needs. In addition to the RAZ shower commode, Cubro has recently supplied a new mattress and mobile hoist and sling to help lift the teenager in and out of bed, and into his wheelchair.

The family are still learning to navigate their new circumstances and have appreciated Cubro’s advice and knowledge. “To take our layman’s speak and interpret it from a design and product angle… the end result is not just functional, it does the job in a way that makes it easy for the caregiver and safe for the user,” Netia explains.

“We don’t bend over as much as we used to, so our backs are a lot more comfortable. It’s safer for us because we know Fatu’s quite secure in the commode. It’s so customer-friendly. It doesn’t take an Einstein genius to work it out.”

Fatu is now able to enjoy a much easier daily care routine. He’s returned to school this year and is currently sitting NCEA Level 1 papers at Orewa College. “It’s nice to be somewhere else other than home,” he says. “I’m back doing what I normally do which is listening to music, making really dark jokes, and watching football.”

Cubro case studies are based on actual testimonials provided by real customers and users of our solutions.  In some testimonials to protect the identity of the users, we have changed a name and used a stock photo. Our case studies describe our past work with customers and users, and detail solutions that have improved their quality of life. As each individual user has a unique set of needs and requirements, the content in these case studies should not be used as a substitute for professional advice from a registered clinician.